Custom arcade cabinet build log

Discussion in 'Video Games and Technology' started by Hook, Jul 11, 2015.

  1. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    So in this thread, a friend of mine gave me a non-working Xevious cabinet. While I managed to make it work again, this rekindled the love of old arcade games for me. So I did a bit of research and found a fair bit of info about building a MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) cabinet, by using an old PC, a monitor and some wood.

    The easy way is to simply buy a premade MAME cabinet, like the ones sold by Xtension Arcade Cabinet. $399 for a cabinet seems affordable enough, right? Well, I'm in Canada, so that $399 price tag is actually $508CAD Thanks to our crappy economy. Add to that $143USD ($182CAD) for cross-border shipping and all of a sudden that affordable cabinet just became a $690 nightmare. So I decided that I would by 3/4" MDF boards at the local hardware store and reverse-engineer a cab by somehow finding the building plans of the cab.

    But what about joysticks, buttons and all that? Well, I could either scratchbuild a control pannel to house the buttons and joysticks, but that proved challenging, so I opted for something simpler - the X-Arcade Tankstick, an all-in-one control panel that can be used on virtually any platform. DIY'ers use this, as it's simple to build a cabinet around it. The aforementioned Xtension cabinet is designed for the Tankstick.

    Anyway, so far in the project, I've got:

    The Tankstick:
    [​IMG]

    A fully functional coin mechanism for that authentic look:
    [​IMG]

    A Dual core PC with 8GB RAM, a 1TB HDD and a barebones Windows 7 that will be used to install MAME and an arcade frontend like Hyperspin:
    [​IMG]

    Lastly, I need to find a suitable monitor. Still undecided between 22 or 25 inch LED. A CRT monitor would have been awesome, but they are pricey and increasingly hard to find.

    First step will be to gather all of the necessary software, and make it work. Once the kinks are ironed out, step two will be to acutally build the cabinet.

    Will update the thread as I progress!
     
  2. Shin-Gouki

    Shin-Gouki Retired Admln Veteran

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    X-Arcade Sticks are really good. In fact I used to be a tester for them. I used to have an XXL Tank Stick.
     
  3. planetjacker

    planetjacker Critters burn real good. TFW2005 Supporter

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    I've been happy with my x-arcade dual. Although these days you wouldn't recognize it. I've changed all the buttons and joysticks and put it into an NBA Jam control panel. The dual is kinda small for a 2-player. Probably not a problem on the Tank.
     
  4. RabidYak

    RabidYak Go Ninja Go Ninja Go

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    I've got an early X-Arcade in storage from the days when them and Hotrods were pretty much the only options if you wanted to buy off the shelf for PC.

    Don't use it now because its too unwieldy for my current setup and I'd have to spend money changing all the parts to by happy with it thesedays, but can't bring myself to liquidate it as I don't have anything else suitable for Smash TV and I hate playing Mortal Kombat with my Japanese sticks.
     
  5. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    2015-07-17 update:

    Getting all of the software setup is proving to be challenging. It's not that it's hard, but it's time-consuming. See, you have 3 major components. The emulators, the frontend interface and the software that communicates between the emulators and the frontend.

    Anyway, a lot of that was reading/following tutorials, trying various versions and packages and posting noob questions on message boards. Long story short, the software aspect is about 75%-80% done, with the MAME component 100% up and running. The coin mechanism works great, but I have to order a Canadian coin mechanism, as the one that came stock with the coin door only works with American quarters. I've managed to find a handful of American 25ยข for the time being, but I eventually want to plug Canadian coins in there.

    While the cabinet is far from being built, I've ordered vinyl artwork for the side panels, control panel and marquee, in a Nintendo vs. Sega theme:

    [​IMG]

    While these decals are designed to go on the Xtension prefab arcade cabinets, I plan on using the decals as a template of sorts to reverse engineer a cab by buying 4x8 MDF boards and cutting them with a jigsaw and router.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  6. bignick1693

    bignick1693 Maximal

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    Sweet project. I like to do a project like this one day. When I graduate college, get a good job and have my own home.
     
  7. Shin-Gouki

    Shin-Gouki Retired Admln Veteran

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    Looking good. I do wholeheartedly recommend replacing the sticks in the X-Arcade with IL Eurosticks, or their Happ Knock Offs the Happ Competition Sticks.
     
  8. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    Taking note of that! What are the main differences?
     
  9. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    The decals are here! Now I need to find someone with a pickup truck or a large van to help me get a couple of large 4 by 8 MDF sheets to start building the cabinet.
    I also bought a plunge router and a jigsaw, I think all I need now is a sander and I'll be all set too-wise.

    On the software front, I've trimmed down the amount of emulators. The machine will be setup to mostly rune MAME roms (roughly 35,000 of them), but I also installed NES, NES, GBA, N64, Sega Master System, Genesis, Sega CD and Game Gear for good measures, as well as the excellent Turbografx 16 library of games. I've also added a few different arcade platforms, such as Daphne (laserdisc games like Space Ace and Dragon's Lair), Sega Model 2 (early 90's games with vectors - Daytona USA, Virtua Fighter, etc) and the obligatory selection of awesome Neo-Geo games. I am maybe 80% done, still need to iron a few kinks out in the frontend, configure buttons for a few systems, etc.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I've also ordered 40' worth of satin black t-moldings, that should hopefully show up this week.
     
  10. Cracka J

    Cracka J judas in my mind TFW2005 Supporter

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    happ's are shitty now and feels like a ko product since they were bought out by some chinese manufacturer some years ago.

    the IL eurosticks are the way to go if you can still find them. they just control and feel the way an arcade stick should if you want the american style 80-90's arcade stick.

    art looks solid so far man. going to follow this cause I hope to be putting mine together in the next couple years as well.

    not doing mame though. going for a dedicated street fighter alpha 2 cab, since it's my fav sf. hopefully going to secure a board this year as the first step :) 
     
  11. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    I'm liking the project a lot so far! Already thinking of a second build, next one would be a cocktail table arcade, exclusively for games that use an upright monitor (Pac-Man, Centipede, Contra, etc).

    Unsure if I'll be going the MAME route or go with a Jamma setup. Still a long way before I can remotely think of starting the second build.
     
  12. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    2015-10-21 update:

    So, not feeling the building the cabinet from scratch thing at all. I am clumsy at best with power tools so I managed to find a decent-priced arcade cabinet kit (like the one posted in the 1st page of the thread) to put all of my electronics in. I should have it in a couple of weeks.

    Pics to follow!
     
  13. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    [edited]
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  14. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    Finally!

    Got my arcade kit last weekend and similar to an IKEA kit, the thing came in 3 different boxes, instructions and a bazillion screws and hardware bits.

    150lbs of pure unadulterated laminated particle board:
    [​IMG]

    Extremely well packed with more than enough bubble wrap:
    [​IMG]

    Once the parts were all laid out on the floor, I started the long, painful assembly process:
    [​IMG]
    This will serve as the bottom of the cabinet and will hold the PC, controls and coin mech:
    [​IMG]
    While this part will be the top and will hold the monitor and bezel light:
    [​IMG]
    Bottom cab fully assembled:
    [​IMG]
    Added all of the hardware inside. Rubbermaid container serves as a temporary solution for easy coin retrieval.
    [​IMG]
    Success!
    [​IMG]
    Hidden door hides keyboard and mouse for configs and such:
    [​IMG]

    Next, custom sideart and control pannel decals and need to paint/hide the dead space around the monitor.
     
  15. grimlock1972

    grimlock1972 Optimus, serving up the primest of ribs since 1984

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    nice. looks like the instructions were not as bad as Ikea's.
     
  16. Shin-Gouki

    Shin-Gouki Retired Admln Veteran

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    They are more solid feeling and fluid. Use a standard square actuator with normal microswitches instead of the lever ones. The IL ones come with Cherry Switches and I highly recommend them.
     
  17. Shin-Gouki

    Shin-Gouki Retired Admln Veteran

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  18. seali_me

    seali_me RIP January 2018

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    Very nice. One day I'd like to build one.
     
  19. Smashs

    Smashs Internet: Pure Truth Moderator TFW2005 Supporter

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    Coolest thing I've seen in a while. Really miss my arcades.

    :thumb 
     
  20. Hook

    Hook Out of Options Veteran

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    So the customization has begun. When I first assembled it, the cab was temporarily put on a moving platform, as seen on previous pics. I removed it from there and added caster wheels underneath the cabinet (because it's such a heavy bugger), added a dedicated power button next to the coin mech, made pannels to close the back, complete with air vent and AC jack and lastly, replaced that aweful, flimsy thin sheet of plexiglass with a nice, thick piece of glass.

    Back view (needs to be sanded/primered/painted)
    [​IMG]

    New power button and working coin mech
    [​IMG]

    Glass bezel. Needs to be painted to hide the dead space around the monitor
    [​IMG]